Three Questions – 
Three Answers  

[Fall, 2003]

 by Fr. John Shimchick

     When is the best time to do each thing?  Who are the most important people to work with?  What is the most important thing to do at all times?

      When, Who and What - these are the concerns raised by a certain king in Leo Tolstoy’s story,  Three Questions,” and he was willing to offer a great reward to anyone who could provide him the answers. A number of people came forward, but not satisfied with any of their responses he decided to consult a hermit well known for his wisdom.  Since the hermit would only receive common folk, the king took off his crown, put on simple clothes, left his bodyguard behind, and entering the woods to the hermit’s cell alone he encountered the hermit and certain events that would forever change him.

     You can read the whole story on our website, but here’s what he learned from the hermit concerning the questions of when, who, and what: “There is only one time that is important -- Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!”  

     How these questions and answers actually get worked out in life is the theme of our issue.  William Southrey discusses the efforts accomplished at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.  Deacon Michael Sochka describes the training he has received from the Red Cross in offering pastoral care during a disaster.  Julia Raboteau explains the ministry of hospitality that takes place at Souls in Motion, a day rehabilitation program that she works at in Harlem . Stephen Keeler presents the life of Chiune Sugihara - Japanese diplomat, Orthodox Christian, and liberator of thousands of Jews in 1940.  Robert Pianka, formerly of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), examines these issues in the context of the unique features of Orthodox philanthropy.  

      One could easily explore this theme in the life and long ministries of Fr. John Nehrebecki and Fr. Paul Shafran whose retirements are presented.  We learn more about the activity of some of our Diocesan parishes and hear about the visit of the Spirit of Orthodoxy Choir to Alaska..    

    Archbishop Peter explores the meaning of the word, “Diaspora.”  Fr. George Gray reviews an important Vatican document which analyzes the “New Age Movement” from a Christian perspective.  We feature an interview with Dean John Erickson of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, who among other things offers suggestions for interaction between our Diocese and the Seminary.  

     This is our first issue since the summer of 2002 and I apologize to those who have sent older materials that we were unable to include.  Limitations in Diocesan funding and some periods of creative inertia prevented us from putting out an issue any sooner.  We hope to be on a more regular cycle from now on.     

     When pressed once on his acknowledgement that none of us is perfect and asked about his own flaws and shortcomings, Fred Rogers, host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” responded in the following way: “I’m trying to be a better appreciator.  I’m just convinced that God wants us to find whatever we can that is of value in the person we happen to be with at the moment.”  

    This issue is dedicated to all who struggle with Tolstoy’s three questions and their answers, to all who likewise desire to be “better appreciators,” finding what we can of value in those whom God has placed in our life at the present moment.






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